By Sedara Oluwadara
One of the hallmarks that has added the success of Sunday Dare as Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister is the unprecedented revamp of sports infrastructures in the country.
Since the start of Sunday Dare’s tenure, the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja has been revived and has gone on to pass the FIFA and CAF test, as it has hosted a number of international matches. Also, the National Stadium, Surulere which was abandoned for years is on the verge of being completely turned around. Moreso, the Daura Township Stadium has been transformed for the utilization of about 45 teams in the area, after the famous ground was left to rot. The Ahmadu Bello Stadium and other facilities are also set for transformation under the wholesome plans of the ministry, led by Hon. Sunday Dare.
Speaking on this infrastructure development drive, Sunday Dare said “we came to the realization that at the heart of sports development is to have infrastructures and facilities that are befitting for such lofty ambitions. So my team and I, set out a grand plan to change the narrative on sports infrastructures in Nigeria”.
“Due to the capital-intensive nature of these projects, we engaged the private sector to see how we could leverage on public-private partnerships and we brought the private sector on board”.
One of the transformed infrastructures is the Moshood Abiola Stadium. A once abandoned edifice has now hosted the Super Eagles, the Super Falcons, the Falconets (U-20 Girls), the Flying Eagles (U-20 Boys), the Flamingoes (U-17 Girls), Golden Eaglets (U-17 Boys), as well as NPFL Matches, all in the space of one year. The stadium is also compliant with the VAR technology, modern FIFA-approved technical and players’ bench amongst others.
Answering further, the Minister said, “when we started, we visited FIFA, and at that point, we all agreed that a football nation as big as Nigeria cannot be suffering a huge gap in infrastructures and we set out to correct this anomaly. We are not where we want to be, but we will not stop working to get as many facilities as possibile up to scratch. We are not just upgrading our facilities, we are also putting up maintenance deals because this is the only way to guarantee their longevity”.
While this drive continues, one could posit that, in the coming years, Nigeria will be able to compete with contemporaries on its sporting infrastructures.